Friday, May 30, 2014

forgiveness

May is Celiac awareness month and GlutenAway started a great campaign focusing on the good. In thinking about what I am thankful for, or what good has come of my diagnosis, I am more and more aware of who-got-it-wrong and the grudges I am holding on to. I can recall the name of every server and establishment who has mis-served me, companies with false/inaccurate packaging, medical professionals and friends who implied my symptoms were all in my head.

It is really hard to let go of shit like this.

I want to focus this month on forgiveness. I want to forgive myself for all the mistakes I made, and forgive others who have made mistakes that have caused pain. (I had a goal of posting this 4 weeks ago, so let's just say my goal of forgiveness is a work in progress.)

forgiving me
I think this is the hardest part, letting go of the dread and regret I have. In 2007, I waited a long time to go see a physician about my symptoms. I have been holding on to that "lost time".  11 doctors later, I still wasn't  feeling great and ugly cried in my bathroom after I found out my multivitamin I was taking--2 months after being diagnosed--was made with wheat starch. I was so angry with myself for not getting it right. (I could list a hundred of these little things where I feel I-should-have-known ___) I have been holding on to these wishes of retroactive knowledge, like somehow once we discover time travel I could go back and all of this pain baggage would be worth while.

I want to create the space to realize I have made a lot of mistakes and I have learned from them. I don't need to spend more time rethinking about these situations. I need to let go of the idea that I should have been perfect at figuring it all out, instantly. There is value in these feelings - I just don't need them all the time.

I have also been angry with myself for having honest-to-goodness normal reactions. I have been frustrated with my feelings of being left out at work functions; told myself that I should just be able to "not care" about being excluded or forgotten. I have tried to down-play my frustration with people putting crumbs in the one gluten-free item at a party, or tell myself it isn't really a big deal.

I want to be ok with feeling feelings. I want to know that they don't have to last forever, but that I don't need to dismiss feeling left out because being left out sucks. It just does. Ok see I said it, now we can move on!

forgiving others
It is really hard to forgive those who have wronged us: doctors who misdiagnosed, loved ones who belittled us, companies and restaurants who got it wrong. The closer we are to these painful events the harder it is to forgive. It is hard to acknowledge that mistakes and missteps are going to keep happening. There is power in the anger when things initially go wrong, but I am not sure I want to hold on to it anymore.

I know I have experienced a lot of medical negligence, but I don't need to hold on to being mad at the GI specialist who told me I needed to eat a fiber supplement derived from wheat. Was it bad advice? You betcha!  Yet, me being angry about it doesn't change what happened - me finding a new doctor did.

So for me, Celiac Awareness Month has been a lot of reflection on who I want to be going forward. Today I had a 25 minute phone call with a manager at a restaurant that served me gluten last week. At the end of the conversation I decided to open myself up to the option of eating there again. I am not saying I am going to go tonight, and maybe I never will, but I am feeling a lot better being open to the option than being full of hate and venom. 

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